Amarillo Tascosa Aiming For Fourth Straight Playoff Berth In 2017

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Photo by Michael Schumacher/ Amarillo Globe-News

 
During a time when more teams are spreading out, one team in the Texas panhandle is sticking to its old-school roots of smash mouth football. That was the formula for success for Amarillo Tascosa in 2016. The Rebels made the postseason for the third straight year and ended up winning a bi-district playoff game before bowing out to the Mansfield Tigers in the area round.

As head coach Ken Plunk heads into his ninth season, he’ll look to build off a season where his team beat archrival Amarillo High for the first time since 2009 and won a bi-district game against El Paso Montwood.

He’ll also work to keep their flexbone triple-option offense rolling and give the rest of District 2-6A fits in trying to stop it.

Key Losses
QB Zac Zimmer, QB Brock Mooneyham, FB Rambo Luhizo, LB Preston Bradic, S/WR Bert Morris

It’s not often that you see two quarterbacks on this list, but the Rebels have that situation here. Zac Zimmer was one of their top rushers under center (573 yards, 11 TD) and combined with Brock Mooneyham (336 yards, 5 TD) were the ones that helped manage a triple-option offense that ran for 49 touchdowns a year ago.

The second-leading rusher from this past season is also one of their toughest players. Rambo Luhizo (623 yards, 6 TD) was a prominent rusher for the Rebels and they will miss his toughness and blocking at the fullback position.

Tascosa also loses several starters on defense from this past season. Preston Bradic was the leading tackler for Tascosa this past season (62 tackles, 12 TFL, 3 sacks) and Bert Morris showed off his versatility on both sides of the ball (45 tackles, 2 INT, 4 TDs receiving). As mentioned, there are several other players that Plunk will have to replace but those two are near the top of the list.

Key Returners
RB King Doerue, RB Deveion Gray, DL Reese Radney

For as many players as the Rebels are losing this year, they’ll have two more runners coming back next season to take on bigger roles in the offense, including their leading rusher in King Doerue. Doerue (723 yards, 10 TD) will most likely take on a role as the lead back again, along with Deveion Gray.

At 5-9, 175 Deveion Gray has the potential to build off of a solid junior season (533 yards, 6 TD). This is an offense where the ball is spread out on the ground, but those two backs will most likely be the featured backs in 2017.

On defense, Reese Radney (35 tackles, 6 TFL) will also have his own opportunity to take charge on the line. The rising senior should play prominently in a position that is losing a lot and will have a lot of new faces next season.

Verdict

The Rebels may not be quite as big as other teams in 2-6A, but they make up for it in physicality and a well-run offense. The triple option creates all sorts of matchup problems and the Rebels were able to take advantage of that last year.

With so many playmakers gone in 2016, the Rebels will have a tough task getting back to the playoffs for the fourth year in a row. They’ll definitely be in the mix in a very competitive District 2-6A.

 

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